It was yet another really full weekend here with the boys! It was actually one of the few “at home” weekends I have for the next month and a half or so, but somehow it never fails that things just kind of happen anyway to fill up the days. Granted, even a quiet weekend at home can seem pretty full when you’ve got two characters like Henry and Presto. A lot happens between the two of them. First: Presto’s version of events.
The forecast for the weekend looked pretty dismal, and the boys had been stuck in their stalls overnight all week due to on and off rain. They’re used to a lot more turnout than just the daytime. So on Friday afternoon I hopped on Henry, grabbed Presto, and took them both on a long walk out in the hilly field.
Presto was a little bit full of himself for the first 20 minutes or so. At one point we were crossing a little natural ditch, and Presto was so busy trying to sneakily bite Henry that he wasn’t paying any attention to where his feet were, and ended up falling on his face. Splat. Baby horse go boom. The look of sheer bewilderment on his face was priceless, I wish I’d caught a picture. He minded his feet a lot better after that, though.
The worst of the rain was supposed to come through Friday night/Saturday morning, so I tucked the boys into their stalls with extra hay. Since the water system in Presto’s outside shedrow has been under repair, he’s been in the stall next to Henry in the main barn. I have to admit, it’s kind of nice having them right there next to each other. Convenient, for sure, when you’re a helicopter horse mom.
I woke up on Saturday to some major pouring rain. Like that shit was coming down sideways for about an hour. I needed to go to the feed store on the way to the barn to pick up more alfalfa, so I waited until mid-morning for the storm to pass. Still though, the road I usually take to the feed store was closed due to high water, and I had to drive all the way around to come in from the other direction. Texas is so saturated by this point that even just an inch or so of rain is causing some flooding.
I knew my fields would be too wet, but I wasn’t sure how the arena would hold up. Generally it takes ridiculous amounts of rain to make that thing unrideable, but it has happened before. Once. I had to laugh when I walked into the ring to inspect the footing, though… the back half, where the round pens are, is covered. The rain came in so sideways that the covered round pens had standing water in them. I’m talking several inches of standing water. The uncovered part of the arena was wet, and had a puddle in one corner, but otherwise had already dried out quite a bit. This was kind of perfect, because you know what I saw when I looked at that underwater round pen?
The plan was to introduce long-lining/ground driving to Presto that day, so I dressed him in his way-too-big surcingle and took him out to investigate the underwater round pen. He snorted at the water a couple times before splashing his way around. At this point I’ve dragged him through so many puddles he isn’t particularly impressed with water in any form. I’d like to keep it that way.
That done, we got down to business. I had him trot a minute or so each direction on the lunge line to get his focus. With the storm came a nice little cool front, and Presto was the most wild he’s ever been for “work”… in that he spent one whole circle snaking his head around so much that I thought he was actually going to buck for the first time. But no. Just a lot of slithering.
After that I hooked up the other lunge line (I have actual long lines coming, but… who can wait when lunge lines technically work just fine for the first time?) to the outside of his halter. As he walked a circle around me I gradually moved the line from over his back, down to behind his haunches. That isn’t totally new to him, I’ve been running the lead rope around his butt and under his tail for a long time, to get him used to the idea. He just kept chugging right along at a polite walk, so I gradually moved myself more and more behind him, to a ground driving position. It took some clucking to keep him going, but before I knew it – voila – he had it.
The steering was sketchy, that’s for sure. Not only is it a new concept for him to be directed that way, but a rope halter isn’t exactly my favorite thing to use for something like this. I will probably end up trying to rig Henry’s side pull next time we do it. But we still managed to walk all over the arena, making figure 8’s, turning and walking over poles, and even going between the skinny standards over a pole on the ground (ok, that one took 3 tries). For a first attempt at ground driving, though, I was pleased with his effort and the fact that he seemed to understand it pretty much immediately.
After that, it was farrier time. It’s to the point where I can just stick him in the crossties for the farrier and leave him, and he’s totally fine. I was on the other end of the aisle tacking up Henry, so I just walked over there every once in a while to make sure everything was ok.
He’s totally a big boy for the farrier these days. A+, gold star, the farrier loves him, so I’m happy. It’s super important that he has good manners for that.
Presto’s regular turnout was a little slick so I stuck him out in the arena while I did some stuff with Henry in the barn. He was standing there happily grazing around the perimeter when I put him out, then a few minutes later I heard the sound of hoofbeats and baby horse screams. It was like he suddenly realized that he was alone, so he was out there running laps.
Well ok, he ran like… 3 laps. Then he settled down to a trot for another lap or two.
This horse is not particularly good at or dedicated to being wild, which I’m 100% ok with.
A little corner paddock had dried up pretty well by early afternoon, so I stuck both boys out there for the rest of the day to graze. It’s taken me a while to trust them together unsupervised, because Henry can be a real jerk and Presto is a little dumb about knowing when to run away, but they both seem to have settled. Henry is less rude than he used to be (I think he secretly likes Presto, even though he would never admit it) and Presto is quicker to vacate the area when Henry’s ears go back. I don’t really want them getting turned out together all the time, because they’d end up attached to each other, but it’s nice to at least be able to turn them out sometimes and not worry about them too much.
On Sunday it was dry enough for Presto to go back to his regular turnout with his donkey friends, which he loved and they hated. He likes to play Cutting Horse with them, against their will. Since he’d been so good on Saturday I just left him alone with his friends, only going out there to say hi and check him over.
It looks like we’re supposed to get a few days off from the rain now, which all of us are happy about. Being stuck inside sucks. I’m going to try to pony Presto a couple more times this week, and then Friday we leave for FEH Champs! He is not in a particularly flattering phase right now, but oh well.